Mark Cuban continues to dream big, some would even say irrationally.
"No, not at all. Nothing has really changed," Cuba said, via Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. "Our approach has always been to be opportunistic and explore all of our options, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do."
"We haven’t closed any doors, and as far as we know, there haven’t been any doors that have been closed to us," he added.
Removing the Mavericks from any sort of superstar sweepstakes would be unlike Cuban, so his most recent assurances are to be expected.
With the Mavs considered long shots to land either Paul or Howard, Cuban's vote of confidence must not be misconstrued as arrogance or senselessness. Dallas will find itself in a better position to land one of the NBA's two best free agents than most comprehend.
Had the Los Angeles Lakers or Los Angeles Clippers been partaking in the Western Conference Finals, the Mavs' chances at whisking Howard or Paul away from winning situations would have bordered on nonexistent, something Cuban himself admits.
Neither the Lakers nor Clippers are still playoff participants, though. Luring them to Dallas is then that much more plausible.
We believe that Howard will re-sign with the Lakers because they can offer him the most money, they play in one of the most desirable markets in existence and because, well, they're the Lakers. And we maintain that Paul has too much control over the Clippers to leave now. They're a collective puppet and he's the one pulling the strings.
None of that matters as much as it would if either team had made it out of the first round.
Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki and the rest of the Mavs have an opportunity to point to their two-year plan (cap space, Dirk's voluntary pay cut, etc.) and say, "First-round exits are not an option here." Howard and Paul are going to listen. After the way their seasons ended, they have to.
Convincing sales pitches, admittedly, may not be enough. Howard and Paul could elect to sign with their incumbent organizations or elsewhere entirely. Signing with the Mavs, however, is well within the realm possibility—even after Dallas couldn't hold Deron Williams' attention last summer.
Which player do the Mavericks have the best chance at landing?
Is Cuban worried that Williams manufactured a stigma that will follow Dallas into this offseason? Hardly.
“Did you see that episode of Shark Tank I filmed that day?" he exclaimed. "It was amazing!”
The Mavs are in a position to be as "amazing" as Cuban's television excursions—so long as he's actually in the room to explain to Paul and Howard what he's already told the rest of us.